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Horne Files Compaint in Mortgage Fraud Scam

PHOENIX (Friday, May 11, 2012) -- Attorney General Tom Horne announced today that a complaint has been filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against Rosa Galope, of Surprise and Avondale, Arizona, alleging that she defrauded homeowners looking for help in obtaining mortgage modifications and saving their homes from foreclosure. 

"The economic crisis has created a number of vulnerable consumers who are often targeted for predatory schemes like this," Horne said. "It is unfortunate that these types of scams victimize people who are already in distress, and who unfortunately place their trust in the wrong person. My office is dedicated to vigorously prosecuting these cases to alert predators that their actions will not go unpunished." 

The lawsuit alleges that Galope charged thousands of dollars in advance fees for mortgage loan modification and foreclosure rescue services that she later falsely claimed were donations to her church, Nation to Nation Ministries. The lawsuit also alleges that Galope prohibited her clients from communicating with their lenders and told them to send her any payments that they intended to go to their lenders, and that Galope would forward the payments to the lender. The lawsuit alleges that rather than forwarding homeowners' payments to their lenders, Galope kept the funds for her own use, even endorsing checks made payable to lenders and cashing them at a local check cashing store. 

The lawsuit further alleges that when Galope was unsuccessful in helping homeowners get a modification. She convinced them to give her thousands of dollars more, money that Galope said would be used as a down payment for the homeowners to repurchase their homes from an investor. The investor would buy at a substantial discount and sell it back to the homeowner for much less than their current mortgage. The lawsuit alleges that Galope kept the down payment money for herself and failed to refund it to homeowners when no investor deal occurred. 

Attorney General Horne is requesting that the court prohibit Galope from engaging in unlawful and deceptive practices related to mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue activities, provide full restitution to consumers harmed by her actions, and order her to pay civil penalties and costs and fees to the Attorney General's Office. 

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Cherie Howe. 

Consumer tips:
Beware of anyone who charges an up- front fee for mortgage assistance or foreclosure rescue services. 
Help is available at no cost through HUD approved housing counseling agencies. 
Contact the Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Helpline at 877-448-1211. 
Don't sign anything unless you read and fully understand the document. 
Be cautious of anyone who advises borrowers to NOT contact their mortgage loan servicer. 
If borrowers need assistance with their mortgage loan, it is recommended that they do contact their servicer to explore potential options. 
Report suspected consumer fraud to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

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